Raffaele, shown above on his first birthday, grew up in the town of Giovinazzi, on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy. Here is a selection of family photos.
Raffaele’s parents, when they were young
At his baptism, with his sister and grandmother
Raffaele, 3 years old with his mother
Raffaele’s one year birthday
Raffaele at 5 years
Raffaele, 4 years old
Raffaele 6 years old
Raffaele’s 7th birthday party at school with many of his classmates
Raffaele’s 8 year old birthday party with his parents and his sister
Since early childhood, Raffaele formed solid friendships that have been maintained and deepened over the years. Raffaele’s friends know him as a good person, generous and keeper of deep values. They know that what he is accused of is entirely impossible, and are outraged by what is happening to their life-long friend. Here’s what they are saying so you too can know the truth about Raffaele.
Raffaele and I have known each other since the first year of high school, he has always been genial, generous and friendly … I remember a day in college, and I had to study for an English exam which I found difficult; Raffaele offered to help me to translate texts, so that afternoon I went to his place to study. Between the translations and the other discussions, we spoke of friendship, love and important values in life. He told me that every action must be driven by a feeling of love and affection, that love is the feeling behind it all. That day I realized that there are people who still believe in these important values. That day I realized that true love, like unconditional friendship, not only exists in fairy tales, but even in real life, just read the hearts of those who are close to us.
I miss Raffaele so much because he is truly one of the most genuine and sincere people I have ever known and I am very proud to be his friend.
I have many fond memories of him, such as one that goes back to first grade, when during the Christmas play, he was selected to play the angel, because he was the only blond child with blue eyes and white skin!
After school we were always together, I often went to his house to play with the superheroes puppets, the sega mega drive and the swords of He-man.
Between a game or two we grew up and together we continued on to High School. We started to travel together, we went to Barcelona and Lisbon. I have wonderful memories of that vacation, and I hope that there will soon be others! For example Raffaele and I have plans to spend a month in Japan, because we are united by many interests such as Manga and technology.
I hope this terrible story will end soon because Raffaele is a fantastic person who does not deserve any of this horribleness … I miss my friend so much, it’s as if part of me had been robbed!
When a friend is far away so many memories are evoked and suddenly one finds their upper lip morph on it’s own, without warning, to form a shy smile … however, when a friend is far away because of something that leaves one feeling powerless and with a bad taste in their mouth, it’s a bit difficult to maintain that smile with joy … but the memories of RAFFAELE are nothing but joyous ones…I can not recall ever having a disagreement with Raff as I leaf through pages of memories that cover the 19 years of friendship with him, I can merely find only good memories.
I’ve nicknamed Raffaele “The little Lord” for his elegance, gentleness and his sense of respect for all! This for me best describes Raffaele … a noble prince with a great spirit!
RAFFAELE, we are waiting for you!
Raffaele and I go back quite a few years; we attended middle school and high school together, the formative years I believe, where meaningful friendships are created and then remain solid for a lifetime. And so that is how it was for Raphael and I… those classrooms created a group of friends that over time increasingly became united and cohesive together sharing evenings and trips all around Europe, together. Given the magnitude of the time I’ve spent with Raffaele, I don’t have one clear individual episode with Raffaele but rather, I prefer to recall some of his qualities which I discovered and valued immensely throughout the years from sharing beautiful experiences and wonderful adventures.
I remember his extreme generosity in making himself available for any situation, i.e., giving a friend a ride home who had to get something from their home, or he’d make his home available if it just so happened to be a night of bad weather and one could not be outside in the elements, or just to have a fun discussion about a wide variety of topics. For example when on vacation with Raffaele he was one of those who did not create too much confusion and has never been more respectful of another person’s space, contributing to the success of the vacation itself.
Basically, all the experiences that I’ve shared with Raffaele have contributed to my belief in his innocence and no court will ever make me change what I believe of the decision on his sentence.
But, I’ve known him for almost 15 years and he and I have shared many experiences together. For me, this one story in particular depicts a completely different picture of Raffaele.
We were on vacation; seaside by day, nights at the disco … One of those evenings Raffaele decided to order a “new” and “original” cocktail at the bar, it was a “fruit juice”! Without going into details, I will tell you that Raffaele spent the entire evening insisting the bartender made sure his juice had no sugar! He had to be sure…and he was not satisfied if he wasn’t carefully reading the nutritional values listed on the label.
Affectionately, I would say, this is the Raffaele I know.
Marta Marianna Modugno:
.. I’m sure Raffaele’s calm and sweet disposition is no longer a secret to anyone … I remember one night … in April when Raffaele had come home for the Easter Holiday to Giovinazzo from Perugia (where he studied). Raffaele had just arrived from traveling all night but he wasn’t able to go right to sleep since it was day though he was very tired … Raff and I were sitting on the comfortable armchairs of our “hangout”, and I was venting to Raff of yet another argument with my parents (something that is natural for us youngsters) … And, although I was caught-up in my story/venting, I noticed Raffaele tired and asked him: – “Ra, are you tired? Want to go home?” and he replied: – “No, no, go ahead … ”
Suddenly I noticed that my confidant was distracted … well, not exactly distracted but he had fallen asleep !!!!!! So as not to disappoint me he remained with me, interested, earnest and physically present to listen to my problems, despite his own obvious fatigue … I was asked to write a few lines…unfortunately, only a few lines are just not to really give you a true and complete picture of who Raffaele is, those few lines would only cover one day with him…and merely one single experience with Raffaele would be enough to show you that a beautiful person such as Raffaele could NEVER commit what he was wrongly convicted of doing…
Raffaele and I are both very shy people…I remember one summer evening, when many of our friends decided to go dancing, I stayed on the sidelines, alone and felt glued to the bench watching the others dance … Suddenly Raffaele saw me and tried to convince me to just throw myself into dancing!! Needless to say that his expression convinced me …I said to myself…If he can do it, I can too…so a pat on the back was all I needed to spend an unforgettable night on that special Italian Summer Holiday (Ferragosto) memorialized by smiles, dancing and pure “clean” fun … To have a good time we never needed extraneous items to seek out an artificial “buzz”.
I met Raffaele in the first days of school, I remember his distinctive blond “bob” and his glasses … I must say he had sparked my curiosity, if only for the aspect that he reminded me a bit of Elton John and well, thanks to this, we became good friends.
I can certainly say that “Solly” always impressed me with his lighthearted disposition, which rendered him inherently the fun kid in class; or during an evening among friends, his gentle kindness and “his” way of smiling … I remember that at times when maybe something went wrong everyone would be there for a little self-pity, and Raffaele with his unfailing smile, which at times might have seemed awkward…but that was just Raffaele, able to smile in any situation. It’s these things I’ve always admired in Raffaele, his “sense of humor”, in reality he’s a person of good character, who is strong and who is always ready to give you a hand.
I have always believed and I believe in you Solly, I know that this situation does not change the extraordinary person you’ve always been.
A friend’s hug.
Zia Dora, Zio Alfonso, Stefy, Giuseppe:
Raffaele, my “great professor”, you have and always will be an integral part of our lives.
Your eyes have never lied and your smile, so sweet and charming remind us every day, more and more, the absolute certainty of what a wonderful person you have always been!
We are, and will always be with you.
With unchanged and unchangeable affection.
Giulia Eplite (madre di Raffaele Mastroviti, Amico di Raffaele):
Raffaele is a friend of my son, I remember when almost every afternoon he would telephone my son, with a very sweet voice he’d say: “Good day, this is Raffaele, is Raffaele there?” (Just so happens my son is also named, Raffaele). As he does every day, my son was sleeping in the early afternoon and I would call for him punctually, this simple sentence made us smile for the way he expressed himself. For me, Raffaele is always in my heart.
Hello, I am an elementary school friend of Raffaele. I have not seen him in recent years, and I could never have imagined to find out he is accused of such a crime because from the memories I have of Raffele, he was a very good and calm boy. I can not, and do not want to think about a change so drastic because that consideration is absolutely impossible.
I remember a time when he was my schoolmate and we shared a desk, he was very calm, and I, on the other hand, was considered too lively. For this reason, this desk union did not last very long; I was very adept at distracting others and so the teachers were forced to find another spot for Raffaele. I hope that soon this case is legitimately clarified and Raffaele’s freedom is deservedly returned!
Andrea Gennaro Palmieri:
The day I met Raffaele was in September on a day like any other day, but it was that particular day which led me to meet this special person. We were in college at Onaosi in Perugia and suddenly this “little boy” from Bari who nobody knew anything about, joined our floor. At first Raffaele was shy and timid, but gradually he managed, with his congenial personality, to emerge gracefully to become a good friend not only with me, but with everyone on the floor. The thing that baffles me is that he is accused of murder when I have seen, on more than one occasion, Raffaele in a panic and fearful to kill a spider or a wasp.
His commendable willingness and kindness: At one point in my life I was rendered homeless and Raffaele, without question, allowed me to live with him for two weeks or so in a studio, not without making a few sacrifices of his own, but he never made me feel as though I were a burden. Good manners as his I could find in too few people, I have never in three years heard Raffaele scream or have an angry attitude.
He is always devoted to his studies and well disciplined. I would be lounging and sleeping like a slacker, and Raf was up at eight in the morning, ready to study or go to class. Personal note: So, if a man is at the scene of the crime but leaves no trace, only one possible footprint? Is it not impossible to continue to say a man pulls-off a bra and the footprints remain only on a bra-hook and nowhere else? This is all very unlikely.
I spent most of my childhood and adolescence with Raffaele. I remember how often I went to his house after doing my homework, and we spent our time playing on the Computer or watching movies. I remember the thousands of PlayStation games we played together, in particular we favored Pro Evolution Soccer and often I lost against him, even though he often helped me by choosing the weaker teams or he helped by modifying my team to make it stronger!
During High School I remember we took the same city bus, to and from school, we planned to meet on the bus so in this way, especially in the first leg of the ride, we had the time to go over the homework together during the journey.
Especially during our early years in High School, in fact, I would say for all five years, Raffaele would always save me a seat because it was a real “struggle” to get one and he knew I’d never get a seat without his help!
Moreover, every time we went home, he’d get off at my stop and even if our homes were on the same street they were at opposite ends. But we thought it fun to spend time talking and joking together, regardless of the passing time, until one of our moms would call us to eat or even because they were concerned we were not home yet, even if in the end, we were right outside house!
Zia Dora, Zio Alfonso, Giuseppe, Stefania, Valeria:
Dearest Raf, those who pointed their fingers at you and judged you don’t know nor will they ever know WHO YOU REALLY ARE. We who truly know you, know very well, WHAT YOU’RE WORTH, inside and outside. We are, and will always be close to you, today more than yesterday. Never give up, stay strong and you’ll win, Raf! You can always count on our support! With all our affection, aunt Dora, uncle Alfonso, cousin’s Stefania, Giuseppe and Valeria.